Takarazuka: Over 100 Years of Girl Power!
In 2004 or 2005, I'm not sure when. I was often drunk as a student in Japan. However, I do remember watching a video about Takarazuka, the all female acting troupe; from their rigorous training, starting at a very young age, to their parts as male (otoko-yaku) and female (musume-yaku) being determined on their entrance to the troupe, and rarely changing throughout their career. The clips of their glitter and sequins masquerading as clothing and their singing and dancing in broken English and beautiful Japanese, made me long to go see a show!
Fast forward to sometime last month, when I wondered onto the JapanToday website, as I do at times. To my absolute interest and delight, there was a special foreigner ticket sale for a Takarazuka show at the Tokyo Civic Center. I immediately messaged my roommate, cause she likes the theater as well. She was all on board, and I promptly purchased 2 tickets, not a care as to where in the building we would be sitting. Surely, if they want foreigners to answer a survey about the show THEY'D PUT US SOMEWHERE WE COULD SEE EVERYTHING, but they didn't. Despite my nosebleed, from nothing sexual, I still very much enjoyed the show. I was especially, terribly envious of those 8000Yen (~$80) seats on the floor when the characters emerged from the audience or wandered through singing beautifully lamenting solos.
Then, after their beautiful rendition of a French take on King Arthur (i.e. the much better ending), they did a short song and dance that was completely unrelated to the rest of the show. The look my roommate gave me, let me know she hadn't looked through the massive package of papers they gave us. The package included a painstakingly thorough explanation of the history, show culture, information about their past shows, and where you could see their shows in the future. I wish they would have mentioned some of the actresses that Takarazuka has spawned into mainstream Japanese movies and music, like the late Chikage Awashima.
In any case, expect to hear more about Takarazuka from me, especially if they do another Rose of Versailles or Lupin the Third show.
If you want to hear more about the history of Takarazuka, check my Youtube channel: Japanology Reloaded - The First Cultural Masked Minute.
I've already started looking for shows at their main theater in Tokyo, and I'll probably plan a trip to their main theater in Hyogo (the dream...sigh).
If you're interested in the show:
English - http://kageki.hankyu.co.jp/english/ Japanese - http://kageki.hankyu.co.jp/index.html
The next foreigner friendly show: Jan. 13(FRI)13:00, Jan. 14(SAT)15:00, Jan. 15(SUN)11:00/15:00 For tickets : https://www.pia.co.jp/omshantiom// Tickets on Sale from December 4th